Is It Time For Spurs To Start Their £30m Man? | Erik Lamela Analysis

Is It Time For Spurs To Start Their £30m Man? | Erik Lamela Analysis

Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham Hotspur side went into yet another international break with a defeat, this time coming at the hands of Newcastle United.

And it seems the international break hasn’t done Villas-Boas any favours, with Christian Eriksen injuring his ankle while on international duty for his native side, Denmark, which, according to reports, could see him out for 4-6 weeks.

The £11m summer signing from Ajax has made a decent impact on the Spurs side, but without having impressed consistently, is it time for Villas-Boas to turn to his record signing, Erik Lamela?

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It’s a delicate subject for both Villas-Boas and Lamela, due to him not knowing a word of English before arriving at White Hart Lane, and is still finding difficulty with the language. But, what has helped the Argentinian winger is his family and girlfriend has moved to London, to help him settle in the capital.

The 21-year old spoke to Spurs TV last week, explaining that while it has been a difficult transition from Italy to England, he’s beginning to feel more comfortable at the club.

[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”” quotestyle=”style02″] It’s getting better now. Training is helping me to settle in. I would say that’s the main part of my settling in, training with the team. I think it’s essential to be able to communicate in English. It’s essential to be able to talk to my teammates & for my personal life. It’s important that I learn the language. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]

It’s tough to analyse his time in the Premier League so far, he’s been mainly used as a sub in bit part roles so far, totalling four substitute appearances, with 68 minutes played; but the former AS Roma man managed to assist a goal for Paulinho in the crucial 1-0 win over Cardiff in September.

So far this season, Lamela has started for Spurs in the Europa League, and without really grabbing the headlines with performances in the opening three games, he excelled in the game versus FC Sheriff at White Hart Lane two weeks ago.

Judging by the heat map provided by Mail Sport Online, the £30m signing was instrumental along the front four for the majority of the night, but caused the most damage on the right and in central positions.

Erik Lamela heat map [via MailOnline]

Erik Lamela heat map [via MailOnline]

Against FC Sheriff, Erik Lamela scored and won a penalty with outstanding footwork outside and inside the box to avoid players, intelligently trying to make three opposition players into a tackle and when in the box, going down for the penalty, resulting in a Jermain Defoe goal.

One element of Erik Lamela’s game that cannot be said of Andros Townsend’s at the moment is even when he was in space to attack the full back against FC Sheriff, he retained the ball by passing it centrally to either Mousa Dembele or Christian Eriksen, creating more space to attack the Sheriff defence.

The sheer amount of fouls the Argentinian suffered in the game was immense, of Sheriff’s (11) fouls conceded, Lamela suffered 5 (including the penalty incident) regularly beating his man before being fouled.

Of Spurs’ 19 overall successful take-ons during the game, Lamela completed 11, of which he attempted 16. A lovely looking statistics for the new Spurs winger.

Popping the ball off to Dembele or Eriksen, playing a one-two and creating more space in the final 3rd is currently what Townsend lacks; while Townsend’s directness has hurt teams in the opening few games of the Premier League, teams are countering this now with two men on the young English forward, and letting him come in on his left foot, enabling him to shoot, with the majority of the time being blocked or off target.

I was at White Hart Lane on the night in question, and he really was another level in terms of his performance, but this is just a taste of what’s to come from the Argentinian winger.

The question is now: where does he fit in, in the current Spurs XI?

With Christian Eriksen out injured until late December, depending on how his recovery goes, the easiest solution for Villas-Boas would be the no10 role, and while he has played that role for AS Roma at times, I think his best position is right wing.

And with the visit to the Etihad to play Manchester City on Super Sunday, I think it would be best for Lewis Holtby to retain the no10 shirt, as he works hard for the team and pushes forward, which will be crucial against a midfield duo of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, the City team have been on fire at home so far this season.

Andros Townsend is currently in fine form, and while he is being found out on the right wing in the last couple of games, I cannot see him being dropped in such a big game, and the same goes for Gylfi Sigurdsson.

While the Iceland international has grabbed (3) goals for Spurs this season, he has been very inconsistent on the left.

The Manchester City game may come to soon yet again for Erik Lamela, I hope I’m wrong, but if he carries on performing for Spurs in the Europa League like he did against FC Sheriff, he should be expecting a call for a Premier League start from Andre Villas-Boas shortly.